Post by Adi Englander
Lead acquisition is the aim of any good inbound marketing plan, and it’s expensive. Data from HubSpot shows leads range from $11 to $100 each, depending on industry. Leads from people in the consulting industry will cost you around $35 each, while marketing agency leads cost over twice that at approximately $75.
With these costs in mind, it’s critical to get every ounce of revenue out of your leads as possible. One obvious way to do that is to convert more of your leads. Doing the math, if you can convert just 10% more leads, you’d see 10% more revenue from your lead gen activities, making a huge impact on on your bottom line.
This is where lead nurturing comes in. In fact, it’s a critical part of the conversion process. Simply sending one email or giving away one free guide just isn’t enough to get the job done most of the time.
Dale Carnegie once said, “There is only one way to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
This desire to act happens by building a valuable relationship, where you work to be likeable and earn trust. In lead nurturing, this value can be delivered through articles, videos and more –in which you demonstrate your products and services, and clearly show how using your products and services will help customers solve one or more of their key paint points – in a way that’s better than the competition.
Your social media channels are a great place to build this kind of nurturing relationship, especially in the middle of the funnel, where our prospects move from “know” to “like” to “trust” on their way to “buy.”
With that said, let’s take a look at the things you should be doing when it comes to lead generation in the critical stage of moving from awareness to trust.
Lead Gen Dos
Use a good lead capture solution. The fact is, if your site performs like the industry average, only 2% of your visitors will actually leave contact info. That means the other 98% are passive, anonymous leads; if you don’t know who they are, you can’t nurture them. A quality lead capture system will collect data from those anonymous visitors so you’ll know what companies are visiting your site, and move them seamlessly into your CRM system for appropriate follow-up.
Provide the right information at the right time on your social channels. Did you know 71% of the leads most companies generates online are wasted? That’s money walking out the virtual door due to lack of nurturing. You need to show up. Be there and provide useful, helpful information. Skip the sales pitch. Instead, follow up with personalized messages that help build confidence. Pay close attention to the way your social posts look – keep things creative, variable and easy to read. Prospects will give up if it’s too hard to digest, and will get bored if all you throw at them over and over is more customer testimonials. Make sure to post third-party content that speaks to the issues and pain points your prospects are contending with, and throw in a video demonstration of how to use your product every now and then. Keep your leads interested with a stream of fresh, useful information, shared in a human voice.
Keep in mind the principles of social selling. Your social channels are ideal for follow-up and building real one-to-one engagement. Most sales funnels use social media at the top to bring in the leads and build awareness. But it doesn’t end there. There are many ways you can work social media into your funnel, because it covers every part of the buying process, from the initial brand awareness all the way through brand advocacy after the sale.
- Use LinkedIn for initial outreach to contacts. Then, find and engage with them on other social channels. Connect with your leads on Twitter, and use direct messages to gain rapport, or mention them when sharing content you think they might like. While LinkedIn is solid as a business platform, Twitter is the more immediate and open channel for communication.
- Build real relationships that exist beyond the sales environment; comment on industry events you both attend, or shared connections you both know. Be real. There is so much value in having a human voice, especially in this age of marketing automation.
- In your drip campaigns, make sure you’re providing real value, helpful content, and freely sharing information. Add value through the insights you offer and the help you give.
Lead Gen Don’ts
Don’t make your prospects wait for information. 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever reach out to sales; they’ve already done the bulk of their research and are close to knowing what they need. Adjust your strategy to better match what it is your consumers are really after. You’ll need to make sure your marketing efforts are bringing awareness to your brand, and making it easy for them to educate themselves about your products and services and how they compare to the competition. Include a lot of educational content like white papers and case studies in your social marketing plans. Lay off the heavy sales pitches and make it easy for them to find the information they seek.
Don’t overwater. If you provide too much too soon, your prospects will drown. Timing is everything, and generally the longer your sales cycle, the longer you should wait between messages. The shorter your sales cycle, the shorter the break should be. A good minimum is six days, while a good maximum pause is 45 days. Six days ensures you’re not emailing someone twice in one week, and 45 days ensures you touch base every month or so.
Don’t go totally automated. With all the high quality automation tools available on the market today, it’s tempting to completely automate your social selling. Don’t. Find info to share and tag your leads in it. Comment on things they share on social. Drop them a note check in or share a news item. And keep in mind, the conversation doesn’t end at the sale. You should also be sending thank you emails after your lead converts, and staying in touch with them to make sure they are happy with their purchase. Ask for feedback. Offer specials and discounts on other products and services. Send reminder emails if products and services are coming up for renewal. Ask for referrals, reviews and testimonials. And continue to engage on a personal level.
Focus on the Relationship and the Sales Will Come
Marketing leads are gold; and we waste so many of them by not following some basic best practices in lead nurturing and social selling. Put a strategic lead nurturing plan in place that takes advantage of your social channels, and be an active participant online.
This is where you’ll shift the focus to the consumer and the relationships you build with them. From there, the sales will naturally follow.Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.